Abstract

The COVID‐19 pandemic of 2020 led to a widespread lockdown that restricted human activities, particularly land, air, and maritime traffic. The “quietness” on land and ocean that followed presents an opportunity to measure an unprecedented reduction in human‐related seismic activities and study its effect on the short‐period range of ambient noise cross‐correlation functions (NCFs). We document the variations in seismic power levels and signal quality of short‐period NCFs measured by four seismographs located near Canadian cities across the pandemic‐defined timeline. Significant drops in seismic power levels are observed at all the locations around mid‐March. These drops coincide with lockdown announcements by the various Canadian provinces where the stations are located. Mean seismic power reductions of 24% and 17% are observed near Montreal and Ottawa, respectively, in eastern Canada. Similar reductions of 27% and 17% are recorded in western Canada near Victoria and Sidney, respectively. None of the locations show full recovery in seismic power back to the pre‐lockdown levels by the end of June, when the provinces moved into gradual reopening. The overall levels of seismic noise during lockdown are a factor of 5–10 lower at our study locations in western Canada, relative to the east. Signal quality of NCF measured in the secondary microseism frequency band for the station pair in western Canada is maximum before lockdown (late February–early March), minimum during lockdown (mid–late March), and increased to intermediate levels in the reopening phase (late May). A similar pattern is observed for the signal quality of the eastern Canada station pair, except for a jump in levels at similar periods during the lockdown phase. The signal quality of NCF within the secondary microseism band is further shown to be the lowest for the western Canada station pair during the 2020 lockdown phase, when compared with similar time windows in 2018 and 2019.

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